Exercise Over Opioids: Resources for Pain Management


Moving Away From Opioid Reliance

Excerpt from PT in Motion, By: Chris Hayhurst | October 2018

...The Centers for Disease Control states that "Non-pharmacologic therapy and non-opioid pharmacologic therapy are preferred for chronic pain." The report expands on this thought, suggesting that "many non-pharmacologic therapies, including physical therapy…can ameliorate chronic pain."

Physical therapy is a dynamic profession with an established theoretical and scientific basis for therapeutic interventions capable of restoring, maintaining, and promoting optimal physical function. Physical therapists work both independently and as members of multidisciplinary health care teams to enhance the health, well-being, and quality of life of their patients, who present with a wide range of conditions including those that commonly cause pain. The CDC's recommendations point to "high-quality evidence" that treatments provided by PTs are especially effective at reducing pain and improving function in cases of low back pain, fibromyalgia, and hip and knee osteoarthritis. Additionally, a number of studies show the efficacy of physical therapist interventions in preventing, minimizing, and, in some cases, eliminating pain in patients postsurgery, in patients with cancer, and in other clinical scenarios.




Lead To More Than

130 Deaths

Every Day

  • Roughly 21 to 29 percent of patients prescribed opioids for chronic pain misuse them
  • Between 8 and 12 percent develop an opioid use disorder





Additional Resources:

Beyond Opioids: Transforming Pain Management To Improve Health

Early physical therapy could reduce opioid dependence for pain patients

Exercise and opioids — What to know before you go

Exercising To Ease Pain: Taking Brisk Walks Can Help


1. National Institute on Drug Abuse, Jan. 2019

2. Centers for Disease Control